Daily Reading: Genesis 20, 21, 22; Matthew 7
“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:23, NASB95)
The focus of Matthew 7:15-23 is on false prophets. They have the potential to ravage the church, like ravenous wolves (Matt. 7:15). Who are these that threaten the flock?
- They come in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:16), appearing to be part of the church.
- They will call Jesus Lord (Matt. 7:21).
- They may prophesy, cast out demons, and performs many miracles, all in Jesus’ name (Matt. 7:22).
How will we recognize them? The last phrase of Matthew 7:23 seems to be a key to the identity of the false prophets. They practice lawlessness. Jesus says we will know them by their fruit (Matt. 7:20). We will know them by their evil, bad, lawless works. This is what Jesus means when he compares them to ravenous wolves, thorn bushes, thistles, and a bad tree. While they might fool some people, in the end they will be cut down and burned (Matt. 7:19). Jesus will declare to them, “I never knew you.”
Spiritual gifts such as prophecy, casting out demons, and performing miracles are important, but not as vital as spiritual maturity, such as the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23), love (1 Cor. 13), or the beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12). We will know false teachers not just by what they say, but by actions that reveal their heart. If they really know Jesus, they will be like Him. Do you know how to identify false prophets from true prophets? Are you vigilantly watching out to protect yourself and others from false teachers? Are you in God’s word so that you don’t lead others astray?